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Thursday, March 30, 2006

CD REVIEWS - The Pink Panther and Madison

The Pink Panther
Score by Christophe Beck Theme by Henry Mancini
Varese Sarabande VSD-6723
22 Tracks 35:11 mins

Whatever the merits or otherwise of Steve Martin reviving Peter Sellers' classic comic creation, Inspector Clouseau for this remake of '60s comedy caper The Pink Panther, composer Christophe Beck has done a very creditable job of writing a score, which is largely based on Henry Mancini's famous original theme. Not only that, but I believe saxophonist Plas Johnson actually performed on the original and proves here he's still got what it takes.
The disc opens with Mancini's theme over the "Main Titles," which is briefly interrupted by a tango for the cartoon character's on-screen antics. Much of what follows is either sneaky or full-on action music, mostly of a suitably light-hearted nature, some with a nod towards the '60s sound, some of a modern techno-based nature. Whatever, it's all quite catchy and enjoyable, even if many of the cues are quite brief. The "End Titles" present Mancini's theme in an up-tempo, even more jazzy arrangement, with the album closing on a straightforward re-recording of the theme, allowing Johnson to shine.
It's amazing that the talented Beck has become somewhat typecast as a comedy composer after having started his career writing deadly serious music for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He undoubtedly knows his stuff, as evidenced here, but enough already, someone please give him a more serious challenge.

Score by Kevin Kiner Themes by Christopher Young
BSX Records BSXCD 885
22 Tracks 53:39 mins

Snap up a copy of this very limited edition release before they're all gone, as this is a fine score in the finest sporting traditions of Rudy, Hoosiers and the Coolangata Gold, to name just a few.
Apparently Christopher Young wrote the themes, with Kevin Kiner fashioning them into the score for this story of the small Indiana town of Madison's hosting of the 1971 Gold Cup hydroplane race. The music is performed by Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic, and is a mix of small-town Americana, featuring ethnic flute at times, giving the score a folksy feel, and heroic, fast-flowing action music. The main elements are brought together in the opening 7-minute title track, which is quite inspirational. Much of what follows is warm, sensitive and down homey until the time of "The Gold Cup" approaches when the score suddenly becomes filled with eager anticipation, and the final cues capably describe the exciting action on screen, leading to the triumphant "Victory," which brings the score to a close.
The accompanying booklet features notes from director William Bindley and from composer Kevin Kiner.
The same label has another limited release in Joseph Conlan's score for Finding Home. Visit their site at for details and for all your soundtrack requirements, as they are principally a retail outlet. Let's hope for more exciting releases on the BSX label.


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